It was such a low place for a classy and complicated horse to wind up.
Steady Smiler, a graded stakes placed warhorse who raced past age 10, but was sound as a bell and statuesque at 17 hands, was just another horse listed on Craigslist when Amy Grayson happened to spot him among the backyard breds and cow ponies.
“I figured out that by the time I bought him in April 2010, he had passed through seven race owners,” Grayson says. “I bought him from someone who hadn’t had him for very long, and who listed him on Craigslist when he didn’t work out with another home.”
Soon after getting him home to Richmond, Indiana Grayson understood why the beautiful animal didn’t stick with his last home. He was aloof, distant, and refused to be pushed into anything new. “He would melt down if I tried to take him off the property,” she says.
Barn name: Steady
Dam: Song and a Smile
Foal date: March 28, 2000
Earnings: $322,980, 75 startsFinally, unable to figure out what made Steady click, she tracked down his original owner Shawn Maybin and she delightedly explained Steady Smiler’s unique approach to work.
In his racing heyday, Steady Smiler didn’t breeze until he said it was time to breeze. And this was typically after he’d meandered out onto the track and taken a good, long look around. “Shawn told me he’d go to the end of the track and stop and stare at the mountains.
Sometimes he stood there for 20 minutes just taking it all in,” she says. “When he was done, he went right to work.”
Like a master key, that little bit of information unlocked the door to training her new Thoroughbred!
Rather than push her horse into doing something that made him uncomfortable, she eased him into it. To coax him to venture off property, she took him out everyday, a little further each time, until finally, they had the trust in each other that would put them in line to begin showing. She started competing him in the fall of 2010 and they won a very small show their first time out.
He even competed last month at the Hagyard Mid South Team Challenge under a different rider, who filled in for Grayson as she recuperated from an appendectomy. That he trusted another rider was testament to the slow and steady training and the bond they built, she says, noting that once she had the key, her big horse learned to approach each challenge with boldness.
“He now jumps anything I point him at. He will go anywhere I ask him to. But, had I not slowed down and given him the time to connect with me and trust me, I don’t know if he ever would have become the big, bold and confident horse he is,” she says, adding, “I think about him ending up on Craigslist. There are times I think he deserved to find something bigger than what he has in my backyard.
“He’s the kind of horse who’s like a person who just fills a room with their presence. He’s so brave and athletic. I’m just glad I found him and took the time to figure him out.” ♥